Japan and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea should begin talks to normalize relations between the two countries and contribute to peace and stability in the region, Moon Jae-in, president of the Republic of Korea, told a Japanese newspaper on Tuesday.
"In particular, I think dialogue between Tokyo and Pyongyang should be resumed," Moon said in the interview with the Yomiuri newspaper.
"If their relations are normalized, that would greatly contribute to peace and security in Northeast Asia beyond the Korean Peninsula," he said in written answers to questions from the newspaper.
At Moon's summit last month with DPRK top leader Kim Jong-un, both sides agreed to work toward denuclearization. Kim said during that meeting he was "ready to have a dialogue with Japan anytime", Moon told the newspaper.
There was no immediate comment from the Japanese government, which has called Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and missile programs the toughest security threat facing Japan since World War II.
In Seoul, a positive image of Kim spread among ROK college students after the third inter-Korean summit, a poll showed on Tuesday.
According to the Kookmin University survey, 48.3 percent of respondents had a positive image toward Kim. It was more than 10-fold of the 4.7-percent rate tallied before the inter-Korean summit on April 27 in the border village of Panmunjom.
The summit was broadcast live to the entire world. After the summit, the students described Kim as being frank, broad-minded and humorous.
Moon's interview was conducted ahead of a summit on Wednesday between Moon, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Tokyo.
Pyongyang was expected to be high on the agenda but a diplomat said last week the talks were about regional cooperation and not focused on the Korean Peninsula.
Kim and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Dalian in northeast China on Tuesday. The DPRK leader also visited Beijing in March and met Xi. He was also scheduled to meet with US President Donald Trump in the coming weeks.
In the interview, Moon said Kim's desire for "complete denuclearization" laid the groundwork for the future summit between the United States and the DPRK, although it remained to be seen if concrete steps were agreed at the talks.
Trump has said he will maintain sanctions and pressure on the North and "not repeat the mistakes of past administrations", and has said his tough stance had led to the breakthrough.
Moon said Kim was "a very open and practical person" and both leaders had a mutual goal for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
"From now on, based on our deep mutual trust, we'll make bold steps toward peace and prosperity, and unification," Moon said.